HELP! I have to talk with a Pastor about Atheism tomorrow!!!!!

I really am sort of freaked out about this whole thing. You guys have always had my back and given me good guidance on here. So please tell me what you would say...

I've daydreamed about how a conversation with my old southern baptist pastor would go... I would give him plenty of facts, he would have no good arguments in return and revert to his poor excuses for arguments he has used a thousand times before. But I did not think my dad would actually set up a meeting for me with the pastor after I mentioned how I could set the pastor straight the other day. Sigh...

I don't want to turn down this opportunity though. I'm curious of what he will say about some things and I'm wondering how well I can do holding up my end of the argument as well. Who knows... Maybe both of us will get something useful out of our conversation.

So here it is. If you were face-to-face with a southern baptist pastor you didn't really know, what would you say to him about atheism vs christianity?

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Keri, it sounds as if you did a great job!  I have read the Case for Christ.  It's dumb.  And your Grandfather does live on~ in the thoughts and memories of the people who loved him.  I think of my Grandparents all the time.  No, they're not floating on a cloud.  They are in my thoughts, and just remembering them comforts me.

I also brought up to a minister online that I was debating, that the jesus story is not original and to look up Horus, etc.  She said she had never heard that.  I guess she looked them up because I never heard from her again! lol.

If you MUST talk to him again I would bring some note cards as I said before so as not to forget anything.  I would go one more time and that would be it.

Hey Keri, thanks for the thorough follow-up. While I think you did an admirable job (I didn't even know half the stuff you brought up!), there were two or three points you definitely could use some help on, imho.


1. "He asked me where I got my morality from without christianity. Eh... Didn't anticipate that, but it doesn't prove things one way or the other"


Ack! That is the number 2 thing you should have been prepared for, right after the whole reason vs. faith thing. Short answer: evolution. But a much better argument here is to ask him whether he would be a raving homicidal maniac if he didn't have the threat of punishment or the promise of reward hanging over his head. We do what is right because of how it makes us feel as people, not because (and often even despite!) of the consequences. If he believes that he is really a good person, then he wouldn't want to be a murderer etc. even if there were no god, which demonstrates conclusively that you do not need god to be moral. Case closed!


2. "I talked about the story of Job. He had a fine response which was about Job knowing God better afterwards. I didn't care to continue arguing on that one and he had a fair point."


No he did not! Well, having just written a paper on the subject (you can find it here if interested:, there are some really powerful arguments against the belief in a just god in there, any one of which might have helped derail his argument. God allowed Satan to destroy Job's children on a bet, and all your pastor has to say is he knew god better afterwards? Yeah, knew him for the SOB he really is.


Did you tell him that god created evil? That he created satan? That he created hell? That he made us what we are and then arbitrarily punishes or rewards us for it? The ridiculousness of the claims made by the theist have no end. I like Hitchens' treatment, where humanity has existed for at least 100,000 years but for 95k or so god just sits back and watches as we endure short, brutal lives, strife with disease and utter lack of education, and then all of the sudden decides that's enough, but instead of making himself known in China where people are educated, he appears in a burning bush in the middle of the most inhospitable, barbaric place in the world to an illiterate people, and so on. One of the things that always gets me is the fact that we didn't have flight until 100 years ago (skipping over computers and telephones and tv and electricity and most of modern medicine and so much more), shoot, we didn't even know about the entire western hemisphere until a little over 500 years ago, it is clear we are only just emerging as a species out of a profound ignorance of the way the world is, yet we are supposed to believe that god revealed himself thousands of years ago (but not too many thousands) with absurd "miracles" and "prophets", AND we are supposed to somehow be able to distinguish only those true prophets and miracles belonging to the right religion from all the countless other prophets and miracles and religions and myths and stories? It's like Hitch says, if you can believe all that, you can be made to believe absolutely anything. They are displaying an inordinate amount of credulity which can only be taken for gullibility when they wholly buy into this nonsense.

Hey Jedi! You have some great points! I will definitely use your point on morality in the future. And I really did pull for the Job story... but this pastor was very stubborn. I will try to word it better in the future though. And it didn't really occur to me to compare hell with morality. I just don't think that way anymore. XD I forget Christians view the two together too much. I did later mention the religion lottery and being threatened to suffer in Hell if you don't go for Christianity. I refrained from the argument about people around the world suffering because of God though. I figured he would anticipate that one.

Thanks for your input!  :)

I would ask him why he believes.  Then ask him with 38000 Christian Denomination of which many disagree on things like the rapture, once saved always saved, women clergy, etc. how can he be sure his interpretation of the scripture is the correct one.  Since he is a minister and probably went to seminary he can quote scripture from memory so take references with you including the bible and don't let him intimidate you just because he's a minister.  He may use some of these arguments or fallacies to so listen closely to his questions and answers.

Argument from ignorance (appeal to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam) – assuming that a claim is true (or false) because it has not been proven false (true) or cannot be proven false (true).  i.e. The bible say's god made everything so evolution is false. Remind him he doesn't KNOW everything or he would be god.

Cherry pickingsuppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. It is a kind of fallacy of selective attention, the most common example of which is the confirmation bias.  i.e. Picking specific scriptures to support the existence of his god or use scripture to scare or intimidate you.  Ignoring or trivializing the horror of scripture i.e. slavery, misogyny, infanticide, rape and murder.

Argument from scripture (Spider-man fallacy) - claiming that because there is some truth in a piece of text (such as a factual city or factual historical figure), that everything mentioned in the text must, by default, be "historical fact. i.e. The bible says it true so it muse be true.

Special pleading – where a proponent of a position attempts to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exemption.  Ask him if he believes that Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation -- unless it is written in the Bible, then it is reasonable faith.

Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative.  i.e I'm a Minister and I know or I know it's true because it's in the bible.

Circular reasoning/Begging the Question 

An argument is circular if its conclusion is among its premises, if it assumes (either explicitly or not) what it is trying to prove. Such arguments are said to beg the question. A circular argument fails as a proof because it will only be judged to be sound by those who already accept its conclusion.  Example:  

(1)The Bible affirms that it is inerrant.

(2) Whatever the Bible says is true.
(3) The Bible is inerrant.

Hope this helps



LOL! I completely agree on the Job comment. But there was no convincing the pastor of that. Nice view of morality! I will look into Steve Shives' views of the Case for Christ. I actually did watch the DVD for the case for christ a couple years ago. I know Strobel's book is all crap. I remember disagreeing with all of it because he basically did not have decent points at all. But I'll read it and review what Shives says and get back to the pastor on it.

Of course we also talked about Gay people and Abortion. The possibility of having a Mormon President vs a Democratic President. Apparently he's willing to have a Mormon president... I knew he didn't like democrats very much. He admitted that much. And I told him he puts all his faith in one book, which could possibly be! That didn't phase him. 

Fun times!

All of the responses to your post thoughtful and well reasoned (I particularly like Michael black's post) and seem to be saying 'stick to the facts Jack' and don't be a dick. may i suggest a possible tool? A laptop and a link to the Skeptics Annotated Bible.

Good luck, have fun


I forgot to ask, you will let us know how it went....right?

Hey! I posted how it went today at the end of the first page  :)

Hey - do you mind if I share this on my FB page?

Oh really? Yes! Please do share it!  :D



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